Sunday, April 5, 2009
Transcendental Manship Highway - Lord of the Trees (Carbon Records CD-R)
The epically christened Transcendental Manship Highway is a supergroup of sorts, comprising both Ray and Eric of Burnt Hills/Century Plants fame alongside Stone Baby's Cory Card and Joe Tunis, head of Carbon Records. With so many heavy hitters present in one room at a time, it's sure to be a wild ride, and what results here is a half an hour of brain bending guitar and drum sprawl that immediately brings to mind Skullflower or even some of Dead C's more expansive excursions.
Beginning with a slow drum pulse, the piece only builds, bringing in vocals that soon loop into a frenzy of guitar strewn stretch outs. Bleak? You bet, but there's also something earthy about this in its primordial thump. Welcome to mulch gulch, feel free to get your feet dirty. As the drums keep it all focused the guitars layer upon one another with a cohesion not usually attained with this kind of match-up. And sure Ray and Eric have been playing together for centuries (ha, get it...?) but even they have rarely sounded so cohesive and unified in their vision. Everything here just combines toward the same sound, and it moves too, going from thump riffer to free rock brain-buster in no time.
Come to think of it, excursions like this don't happen often enough in a world where everybody seems to know everybody anyway. And sure, people are all over the place and doing their different things, but enough people are within reach of one another that this sort of option is available and, as is surely the case here, a worthwhile endeavor that manages to expand on all involved parties' work. When the whole thing shudders back down to a close with free drums and guitar lacings it leaves an emptiness that calls for more from these guys together. Let's hope there's more to come.